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Joyce Endee

North Country responds to death of a terrorist

May 05, 2011
LITTLETON- Monday morning, the country woke up to a world without Osama bin Laden. Like others across the country, North Country residents rejoiced in the American victory, though not without questions about what this truly means for the country.

The terrorist behind al Qaeda, and the attacks on September 11, 2001, bin Laden has been hunted by the American military for almost a decade. He was killed in Pakistan on Sunday in an operation performed by Navy SEALS and CIA paramilitary forces, reported President Barack Obama in an address to the American people late Sunday evening. Following a DNA analysis verifying bin Laden's identity, he was given a "burial at sea."

Some are unequivocally pleased.

"I'm glad the S.O.B. is gone," said Ted Merchant, of Littleton, an Army veteran.

Some questioned the effectiveness of the American military and governance.

"My question would be, 'Why haven't we done it earlier?'" said Dan LeBlanc, a Salem, Mass. resident with a second home in northern Vermont. LeBlanc, who did not know of bin Laden's death prior to the interview, said that it hopefully sends a message to others in the al Qaeda network that will dissuade them from similar acts of terror.

Some are worried about what it could mean for the country's security.

"I think the U.S. needs to stop telling everyone that we've gotten him," said Stacey Bilodeau, of Groveton. "I think there's going to be a bigger retaliation."

Most are cautiously optimistic.

"I think it's a good thing, and I think it's amazing that he was able to survive without being previously apprehended or shot," said Littleton Attorney Michael Ransmeier, of Landaff. However, Ransmeier said bin Laden's death raised more questions about al Qaeda's power.

"We shouldn't be too optimistic that this is going to make too much of a difference in al Qaeda's activities. It does raise huge questions about who in Pakistan knew he was there," said Ransmeier, noting that the compound in which bin Laden was staying was built only six years ago, and would have required permits from higher up in the Pakistani government for construction.

Mark Youngholm, a Littleton resident with a law office on Main Street, had similar concerns about the terrorist structure still in place despite bin Laden's death.

"It probably brings closure to people personally affected, so to that degree it's something that's meaningful," said Youngholm. "I don't think it helps us address still yet those underlying circumstances that led to his power."

Among those, Youngholm listed ignorance, poverty, lack of education, and dysfunctional institutions in the Middle East. Though he believes this issues are being addressed, and the rise of the Arab Spring the term used to describe the blossoming of democracies in the Middle East shows promise, there is still a ways to go.

Others' thoughts turned to those Americans stationed abroad.

"I'm glad that we got him, and I hope that we can start brining home our troops," said Dan Salomon, of Northern Lights, adding that he is waiting to see what kinds of effects the act truly has.

Littleton resident Art Tighe's response was one of overwhelming gratitude for the troops that have worked diligently for the past decade to ensure American freedom and security.

"A thank you to all military people, especially those from New Hampshire," said Tighe, noting that while our troops are stationed in the Middle East, eating MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) the field rations given to soldiers we are able to go out to the Ninety-Nine, or eat pizza whenever we want.

"Thanks to the efforts of the American military, we're able to enjoy life," he said.

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